Editor’s note: This is the fifth of an occasional article written by Neighbors in Motion (NIM), a Mercer Island organization dedicated to improving and increasing bicycling and walking on Mercer Island. Typically, these articles will focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety, rules and courtesy.
Q. What has Neighbors in Motion (NIM) accomplished lately?
A. Glad you asked. Consistent with its goal of making our roads safer for everyone, NIM has worked actively with the city on several issues.
The Mercers, north end and city center projects. For years NIM has advocated for the ongoing effort to pave all the inside shoulders on West, East and North Mercer Way. In 2015, for example, the city planned to add a sidewalk to a section of road that already had an excellent one. Working with city, NIM successfully lobbied for moving those funds to instead pave a curvy, hilly section of West Mercer Way that had no shoulders on either side. Only a few miles of shoulders remain unpaved.
The Aubrey Davis Park (I-90) trail (across the north end of the Island, bridge to bridge) remains an ongoing project. NIM has worked with the city, Sound Transit, the Department of Transportation and others to plan for bicycle and pedestrian facilities and safety in the various construction projects scheduled for the north end of the Island, such as the King County sewer project, Sound Transit light rail and bus intercept project, first and last mile(s) solutions and bike parking and lockers at the park and ride.
NIM also supports the new Aubrey Davis Park Master Plan. More immediate issues include tree roots, which have buckled the pavement on parts of the ADP trail, and utility covers below street level, which are hazardous for bikes going north/downhill on West Mercer Way north of the I-90 on-ramp. NIM reported the issues and the city has agreed to the repairs.
School pedestrian and biking safety. NIM has worked with the Mercer Island School District to ensure that all the schools published easy to find, safe school zones, as required by state law. David Bynum, district transportation director, reported that schools previously had identified zones, but some were not easy to find. This school year all Mercer Island elementary schools are addressing this. Northwood designated a route, and West Mercer and Island Park are updating their routes. Lakeridge is reviewing its route but likely will not make any changes. Contact your local school for details.
With the opening of Northwood, most kids on MI are within a mile of his/her grade school. Those living outside the one-mile radius or a designated walk zone are expected to ride the bus.
The school district will review whether to designate a route for Islander Middle School. The high school is accessed by Metro.
The North-South bike route. Installation of signage and road markings on the city’s designated North-Sound bike route have been approved and funded by the city. Improved marking of this route was postponed to this spring due to weather and other constraints. Pavement markings (mostly sharrows) and signage will be installed as the weather allows. (Note: NIM has raised a concern with the city about the recent placement of some bike route signs, which it expects to resolve soon.)
The N-S bike/pedestrian route has two missing links. One is on SE 40th between Island Crest Way and 86th SE. In January 2018 the city obtained a grant of $500,000 from the state Transportation Improvement Board to help fund a project to install bike lanes and sharrows and improve pedestrian access on SE 40th. Construction is expected to begin in June.
The remaining and more challenging “missing link” is on Island Crest Way between SE 62nd and 90th SE (the mailboxes). NIM encourages public support for completing this missing link. Contact NIM or the city if you have any suggestions.
The Neighbors in Motion, Mercer Island, Steering Committee includes James Stanton, Robert Olson, Mark Clausen, Jeff Koontz and Kirk Griffin. Contact NIM at Board@NeighborsinMotion.org.